Dueling “Out of Office” Replies
Jul 1, 2005 12:00 PM,
By Mark Johnson
I just returned from InfoComm 2005 in Las Vegas (look for our show wrap-up online and in the August issue). It was a bigger show this year — more exhibitors, more attendees, and more overall floor space than in years past. One of the hot topics at the show was digital signage, which, appropriately, is the focus of this issue.
While at InfoComm, I knew I would be pretty busy, from dawn until well after dusk practically each day. Knowing myself fairly well, I expected that I’d be in no mood to answer emails after spending the day traversing back and forth across the exhibit floor trying to make my next booth appointment in time, so I decided against taking my laptop. However, before leaving, I activated Outlook’s Out Of Office Assistant to let folks know that I’d be unavailable via email for the next few days. Having done this before, I was not surprised to find about five hundred emails awaiting me when I returned to my desk on Monday morning.
As I read through the emails, however, I laughed to myself. What I didn’t recall happening before (at least to the extent it had this time), was the number of automated replies generated in response to my automated reply — all from people who were also out of the office and attending InfoComm, although they had brought their laptops with them to send that last press release from the show floor or hotel room. What happened was that their initial email to me activated my Out of Office reply, which went to their email address (and since they were at the show, they had dutifully activated their Out of Office Assistant), which in turn triggered their automated Out of Office replies. I think computers have some kind of mechanism for detecting these types of things so they don’t get out of hand, but the thought of it struck me as pretty funny, all these computers communicating with other unattended computers generating endless do-loops of Out of Office replies.